Allison Espiritu
Damon O'Grady, 15, points out through storyboard sketches how he puts together each shot for his short films. CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS.

Salmon Bay graduate turns hobby into passion

First inspired at the age of 8 when his dad introduced him to a JVC camcorder, recent Salmon Bay School eighth-grade graduate, Damon O’Grady, 15, hopes to someday bring his hobby to a whole new level--the big screen.

“I started making lego animations and after a while I starting making movies with my friends,” O’Grady said. “We did really bad filming of us doing random stuff, but it was when I was about 12 years old that I got a YouTube channel and started to upload movies on there. So, recently I started steadily doing movies every month.”

A fan of both horror and action films, O’Grady said he did not have much interest in documentaries until he was assigned to do a year-long project on global warming for his final eighth grade project.

O’Grady decided to contact Alan Durning, executive director of Sightline Institute, a non-profit research and communication center focusing on sustainability in the Pacific Northwest, to assist in creating his first documentary.

“I used that interview, edited it and played around with it a bit,” O’Grady said. “I took out the dialogue where I was asking questions and put it all together showing my teacher, the school and then an evening public viewing.”

He received both positive and negative feedback. O’Grady said he usually focuses on things that people don’t like about his movies so that he can continue to improve them.

Not quite yet at feature film status, O’Grady said his movies give his audience an entire overview of a subject or issue in a matter of minutes. But he admits, he still has a lot to learn.

“At this point, I don’t make real good solid stories but I’m focusing on the cuts and technical stuff on how to put it together and tricking people that it’s been done in one day,” he said. “Four minutes could’ve taken 12 hours to make.”

O’Grady compares his movies to a huge ball that’s been deflated.

“It’s great you put so much time into it and when it’s done it’s so cool,” he said. “Watching is the best when you’re sitting back and don’t have to do anything and you don’t have to think about anything.”

O’Grady said he finds inspiration from the work of such directors as M. Night Shaymalan ("Sixth Sense") Paul Greengrass ("Bourne Supremacy" series) and Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire").

“I read about them and see what they do,” he said.

As for now, O’Grady will keep making action movies on his own time and for school projects. He will be attending Center School at the Seattle Center House this fall and will continue to make documentaries, O’Grady said.

His mother, Peggie O’Grady, is pleased with her son's hobby turned passion.

“I love that he’s very interactive and thinking hard about putting (movies) together,” she said. “What’s behind these images and how he can influence messages and feelings based on what he does with film, I think that gives him a lot of power.”

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